Although very different in shape and size, Sarracenia and Dionaea muscipula share the same natural habitat and require very similar care.
Fortunately, many of the rules seen for Dionaea muscipula also apply to these beautiful carnivorous plants with a very distinctive trap that at first glance may resemble a “trumpet.”
The carnivorous leaves of Sarracenia are called “ascidia,” which in some species can exceed one meter in height. At the furthest point of the ascidium and away from the rhizome are the peristome and operculum, which differ in shape and color depending on the various species of Sarracenia.
Sarracenia is a carnivorous plant belonging to the family Sarraceniaceae (of which the genera Heliamphora and Darlingtonia are also members) and is native to the southeastern belt of the United States, from Texas to South Carolina. It lives in bogs, “flooded” peat plains constantly soaked with rainwater.
Please refer to the article on the cultivation of Dionaea muscipula for a detailed description of the peatland environment (https://www.diflora.it/guide-en/come-si-coltiva-dionaea-muscipula/?lang=en).
Sarracenia Care Guide
Full sun all year round! It is possible to shade slightly in the warmer summer months to avoid excessive temperatures that can stunt the plant’s growth. Sarracenia is, however, much less sensitive to heat than Dionaea muscipula.
Why full sun?
For energy issues. Catching prey requires a lot of energy from the plant. Energy comes indirectly from photosynthesis. So more light intensity = more energy = more capture!!!
- For habitat-related reasons. In bogs, the number of plants that can grow is very limited and these are mainly small shrubs or sporadic trees that can withstand acidic, nutrient-poor soil.
- An environment without much vegetation = nothing to shade the plant by shielding it from direct sunlight.
How to water?
3-4 cm of distilled or rainwater is always present in the saucer. Alternatively, all waters that have an extremely low mineral salt content are suitable. For example, distilled water, The conductivity of the water must have a value of fewer than 50 micro-siemens.
Peatlands are ecosystems with an impermeable bottom, mostly clay, which does not allow rainwater to penetrate the lower layers. The result is permanently waterlogged soil that results from the condensation of atmospheric water vapor, which is naturally devoid of mineral salts.
Mineral salts, on the other hand, are commonly found in fresh water and in our aquifers and result from the dissolving of limestones that make up rocks and go into the waters of rivers and lakes. Sarracenia has adapted to grow in an environment devoid of mineral salts derived from water, particularly carbonates, which in the long run would raise the pH of the substrate, irreparably damaging the plant.
Sarracenia likes stagnant water. 3-4 cm of distilled water or rainwater is always present in the saucer, even in winter (even if it freezes). This is to faithfully mimic the natural soupy environment in which they live.
50% pure sphagnum peat, 50% perlite
Sarracenia does not tolerate nutrients. We avoid pH-neutral or nitrogen-amended peats often found in acidophilic potting soils. Peat must be pure. Perlite is an inert substrate that helps aerate the substrate. In nature, there is obviously none, but forced cultivation in small volumes (our pots) requires adaptation to increase the shelf life of the constantly wet substrate.
CAUTION: Do not breathe in unprotected perlite dust; moisturize it properly before handling it; it is very fine dust and harmful to our lungs!
What to do in winter?
Put the plant outdoors, even during the coldest months!
It has evolved to grow in a temperate climate with hot summers and cold winters. It also tolerates subzero temperatures for extended periods if, during the day, the substrate can thaw and the plant can absorb water properly.
What happens during the winter?
In late fall, the ascidia begin to dry out. Sarracenia in fact stores energy in an underground stem called the rhizome, which is white in color and lets most of the aerial part die off as the cold weather arrives.
What to do in spring?
In spring, temperatures increase, as do the hours of available light. These stimuli are perceived by the plant as the beginning of a new growing season.
Sarracenia’s awakening is characterized by flower growth. In appearance, the flower emerges from the rhizome as a small ball (immediately recognizable compared to the forming leaves, which are instead flat and thin).
Unlike Dionaea muscipula, the Sarracenia flower is nothing short of spectacular. By cutting it off, you gain ascidian vigor, which will begin to grow soon after the flower, but you certainly miss an unusual sight: each flower has its own shade of color, its own smell, and its own bearing.
The decision is up to you!
If you want to fully enjoy all the beauty of this fantastic carnivorous plant, I recommend letting the plant bloom.
If, on the other hand, you want to push ascidian production to the maximum, then you can cut off the flower with a common pair of scissors as soon as it reaches 3–4 cm in height.
Pests and Diseases
The growing season brings with it, in addition to many beautiful satisfactions, some possible inconveniences, particularly with the arrival of hot weather. Indeed, as the weeks pass, the likelihood of our Sarracenia being attacked by pests or other stresses increases!
Let’s look at the main ones:
Aphids are stinging insects of varying color (usually white or green) that are a few millimeters in size, visible to the naked eye, and easily eradicated. They sting and suck plant sap, causing mainly leaf deformities and small galls.
The saliva of these parasites produces auxin-like substances. Auxins are plant hormones that, along with others, control the plant cell cycle. Disruption of the hormonal balance causes the plant to produce galls, which are small clusters of undifferentiated cells (tumors) that appear as leaf bulges.
How do I get rid of it?
Sarracenia is attacked sporadically by these pests. If it happens, they can be removed manually if it is early in the infestation, or they can
be eliminated with biological pyrethrum-based aphicidal products. Repeat the first treatment after 10 days to eliminate any new hatchlings.
eggs were laid initially.
Mites: Mites are very small arachnids (0.5 mm for females and even less for males) with stinging mouthparts. They sting the leaves of our plants to suck their sap and feed. The primary symptoms of red spider mites are leaf discoloration and leaf wilting or browning that occurs much faster than normal, often when it should not.
Why is it dangerous?
Its small size makes it difficult to detect, and its symptoms can be mistaken for normal leaf browning due to excessive heat or the arrival of cold weather and vegetative rest. The effects of mites on Sarracenia are much less invasive than those on Dionaea muscipula, but they retain some danger and are often complicated to eliminate completely.
How do I get rid of it?
For minor infestations, a contact acaricide insecticide is used, followed by a systemic acaricide for major recurring infestations.
Cochineal: This is the pest that most commonly infests Sarracenia. Again, this is an insect with stinging mouthparts that feed on plant sap. It reproduces sexually, producing a huge quantity of eggs that are extremely hardy and difficult to kill with common contact insecticides. Fortunately, its appearance and size (it reaches nearly a centimeter) make it easily identifiable. Cottonwood cochineal is the name of the most common of these insects. Its body is red but completely covered with a white waxy layer, from which it derives its name. In Sarracenia, we find it concentrated at growth points, at the bottom of the leaf base, and, when infestations are more advanced, also along the entire length of the leaf. In addition to direct sting damage, as with other stinging insects (recognizable because it gives rise to deformed leaves), it generates sugary secretions that coat the plant tissues. In the case of abundant infestations, the secretions cause fungal proliferation on the plant surface, especially at the growing points. Factor in the fact that in the long run, this can lead to the rotting of green tissues.
How do I get rid of it?
First, we recommend the use of a systemic cockroachicide insecticide. Then (after a week), we can proceed with the manual removal of the pest (which should be dead). In this way, we avoid, by removing it, distributing the still-living parasite to other nearby plants. It is advisable to repeat the treatment after one month. If the infestation persists, it is best to treat it with mineral oil in the winter (at severed ascidia) to remove any remaining eggs. Mineral oil acts by asphyxiation; apply it only when the plant is resting over the entire surface of the plant so that the covering effect is effective. Dispense it in the evening so that the plants are not exposed to direct sunlight in the hours just after the treatment. To perform any chemical or non-chemical treatment on our plants, we recommend using well-ventilated rooms and appropriate PPE.
In the warmer months, light shading is recommended to prevent temperatures from rising too high. Sarracenia exposed to excessive temperatures (especially when grown in summer in small greenhouses in full sun) can go into stress and stop growing completely.
What do we recommend doing to avoid heat stress?
1) Provide shade in the hottest months with the aim of lowering the temperature.
2) Cut back the flower in spring. The flowering
Tips for Holidays
What if you need to leave your carnivorous plants for some days?
Managing Sarracenia when we are on vacation is easier than expected. The fact that they not only tolerate but even love waterlogging makes it possible to use the raft system.
Using a suitably sized piece of expanded polystyrene or any other floating support, a floating platform can be made for our pot.
1) We drill a hole in the center of our floating raft so that the jar can be placed there. The holes in the bottom of the jar must protrude from the bottom surface of the raft.
2) We choose a bucket or container large enough to hold the water needed to cover the plant’s water needs for as long as we are away (be careful to also consider evaporation and not just water absorption by the plant).
3) We place the raft with the pot in the container filled with water. Make sure the buoyancy is stable! Especially given Sarracenia’s size.
Such long ascidia can unbalance the raft if not done properly.
In this way, the raft will adjust to the gradually decreasing water level while keeping the peat moist and the aerial part dry!
In this article, we have talked about all the main aspects of cultivation, not in a schematic and generalist way, but by trying to follow a logical thread that starts from the natural habitat and aims to make the needs of the plant compatible with those of humans (including vacations).